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Tag: far right

One America Network’s Shameful Last Days On National TV

On July 21, Verizon followed in DirecTV’s footsteps and announced it would not be renewing its contract with the far-right conspiracy theory network One America News. Having learned nothing from its catastrophic response to DirecTV, OAN denounced Verizon and encouraged viewers to harass and boycott the “radical Marxist corporation.” And since then, OAN has only further proved its worthlessness.

Without a major carrier, OAN remains focused on national issues like a fear of roving transgender gangs harassing conservatives, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for gay men who flash “their genitals to little boys and girls” (she appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race -- a show with no children -- two years ago), and Verizon’s “censorship” of OAN.

Before OAN was officially kicked off national television, however, the network spent its last week much like the years before, warning viewers of “Fauci-funded bioweapons” unleashed against the people, hand-wringing over billionaires “pushing the transgender issue,” speculating about gay men with monkeypox sexually assaulting children, lamenting the need for a literal war against drug cartels, and discussing the left’s grand plot to steal the 2022 midterms, beginning with the “Marxist censorship” of OAN and other right-wing voices.

Prior to the drop, Pearson Sharp, Infowars’ favorite OAN correspondent, delivered one more report about the “predator class” using COVID-19 vaccines to “depopulate the world” by 15 percent.

“They want to kill off the useless people, as they call us,” Sharp ominously said. “And you can already see it happening. … We know these vaccines are hardest on the elderly, so it makes perfect sense that the Bolsheviks in our government would want to wipe out as many retired Americans as possible. Can’t pay Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security if people are dead, don’t you know?”

“These Fauci-funded bioweapons,” Sharp warned, “are products of a rogue globalist government that hates America and hates its citizens, and is doing everything in its power to wipe us out. This is corporate domestic bioterrorism, plain and simple,” and “the predator class in Washington” which is “responsible for this genocide” must pay the price.

OAN’s final days of national carriage also targeted LGBTQ people with bigoted nonsense. For making investments in transgender issues and “quote-unquote, ‘gender care,’” Tipping Point host Kara McKinney labeled Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his cousin, Jennifer -- whom McKinney also deadnamed and misgendered -- “two prime examples of transhumanists trying to play God by reshaping the world through technology.” McKinney said the Pritzkers are an example of billionaires who are “ really pushing the transgender issue” alongside Big Pharma, which she said sees it as “another potential moneymaker” as “COVID starts to wind down at least somewhat.”

Before inisting that he did not want to sound homophobic, Real America’s Ball took news of multiple children testing positive for monkeypox as a potential sign that they had been sexually assaulted by gay men. “How does a kid in Washington, D.C., and a kid in California -- we’re talking toddlers -- get monkeypox if it’s barely ever transmitted through just touching the skin,” Ball asked, exactly describing monkeypox transmission, “because otherwise, you know where I’m going with this.”

Ball’s guest, the anti-COVID-19 vaccine Dr. Brian Tyson, replied that he believed that both children “came from a gay relationship family, or had contact with somebody in the gay community, and I think that that’s really where we’re going with this.” Speculating that one child may be undocumented, Tyson said, “Who knows what’s happened to that kid. And we see bad things happen to kids all the time in those situations.”

“That’s what I’m saying. That’s where I’m going with it,” Ball replied, talking over Tyson’s hedge that “it’s a little too early to draw conclusions on that.”

Speaking of Ball and children, the Real America host also spent part of his last week on national television encouraging parents to hit their children for misbehaving. After a guest blamed “psychotropic drugs” and other “externalities” for mass shootings, Ball suggested parents should ignore medical treatments for behavior problems and just hit them instead.

“We can’t say enough about what we’re doing to our children, folks. The next time you take your kid who you think’s a little bit hyper, or a little bit despondent, or a little bit sidetracked in the classroom, don’t feed him drugs.” Ball continued, “I’m of a different age … and when they said, 'Dan's hyperactive. Dan won't sit still in class. Dan won’t shut his mouth,' nobody said, 'Pump Dan full of drugs' 40 years ago when I was seven or eight. You know what they did? They cracked me one and then I got in line."

In its final days of national carriage, OAN also called for military action against drug cartels. With no concern for the possibility of starting a war with Mexico, or U.S. airstrikes on U.S. soil, host Addison Smith called for “using the unfathomable power and strength of our military to deal with Mexican drug cartels” and compared the would-be war to ongoing U.S. special operations and drone campaigns.

“The Mexican drug operation is one of, if not the, biggest threat to this nation right now,” Smith warned. “If our United States military has a job to deal with any group, that should be target number one, and we could do it very easily.” His guest, Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX), agreed that the U.S. should “use every means necessary to secure our southern border, to protect the American people against the Mexican drug cartels.”

OAN’s final days on national television were a shameful mess of the vitriol and dangerous conspiracy theories it is known for, down to the network’s explanation of why it was leaving Verizon. According to Sharp, “there’s no chance in hell” Democrats will allow Republicans to win control of Congress in November, so they will cheat as they did in 2020, “and the process starts, of course with a massive, widespread, coordinated campaign of censorship,” which naturally included DirecTV and Verizon dumping OAN.

“It's essentially institutionalized discrimination,” Sharp complained as his network’s time ran out. “It’s appalling to think that the criminals in Washington are colluding with the criminals in the media to prevent you, the American people, from figuring out just how much of the Constitution they're willing to shred to stay in power.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Alex Jones Erupts At His Lawyers After Losing Defamation Trial

Alex Jones is not pleased with his lawyers following the ruling ordering him to pay $4.1 million in damages to the family members of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. [UPDATE: Jones was hit with an additional $45 million in punitive damages on Friday.}

On Thursday, August 4, footage of Jones' reaction to his lawyers accidentally disclosed his cell phone records to the opposing counsel. "It's just so incredibly sick that I sit there and give the damn lawyers all the text messages...," Jones said. "My lawyers give them the raw text messages of six months."

During the recent segment of his show, he criticized his legal counsel as he attempted to offer an argument defending himself.

"Jones played a clip from the trial where he was told that at anytime he could invoke his right to use the Fifth Amendment," Newsweek reported. "The Fifth Amendment includes a clause about self-incrimination meaning an individual is protected from intentionally or unintentionally providing information that will suggest they were involved in a crime."

The far-right radio host also added, 'You can invoke your Fifth Amendment'. At that point my lawyer should have got up at that point and said, I'm not attacking it is just a fact, 'show us the deposition.' The guys deposed me, Bankston deposed me, three or four times? And I've been deposed four times by Connecticut but I never talked to them so I am defaulted."

Jones continued his rant saying, "They have got all this stuff and I did search one of my phones and it didn't have Sandy Hook stuff in it. And then they came back and said well they are saying you are hiding it, you have the old phones.

"Tore the office apart and I just said here, go search it and give it to the damn lawyers because I wasn't talking about Sandy Hook, I don't care about Sandy Hook, we don't cover it other than when they force us to."

Jones also added his reaction to his lawyers. "It is just so incredibly sick that I sit there and give the damn lawyers all the text messages and then they send it over to Connecticut, the Texas lawyers, before the new ones I have, never even gave them the stuff I gave them.

"That is what they claim, then I am sitting there, in the final witness, in a trial where I have already been found guilty by the judge, for not giving stuff over and my lawyers give them the raw text messages of six months from 2019, early 2020, that is the reality.

"Then I see a text message from Paul Watson saying this story sounds like 'Sandy Hook Bull', a story about Covid. How is that even pertinent, how is that lying about something."

Watch the video below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Michigan Republicans Nominate Far-Right Extremists For Top State Posts

Several far-right Michigan Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump won their statewide primary elections on Tuesday, including Tudor Dixon for governor, Kristina Karamo for secretary of state, and Matthew DePerno for state attorney general.

The top three races for statewide office this November will be between three Democratic incumbents and Trump-endorsed challengers who have furthered conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and who broadly oppose abortion rights.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will face off against Dixon, a businesswoman and conservative pundit who clinched the hotly contested GOP nomination for governor after securing Trump's endorsement. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will run against DePerno, a Kalamazoo lawyer who has tried to overturn Michigan's 2020 presidential election results. And Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will run against Karamo, a former community college instructor who is a follower of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.

The three Republican nominees have all promoted the lie that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, and they all share extreme anti-abortion views that are outside the mainstream for many Michigan voters.

Whitmer, Nessel, and Benson, meanwhile, represent an anti-Trump triumvirate in the state and have starkly opposed his party's policies on abortion, voting rights, and COVID-19 safety measures, among other issues.

Benson's mailing of absentee ballots, which is completely legal, caused outrage among the far right, incentivized several candidates to run for office, and even generated a plot to kidnap Whitmer.

Dixon's father, Vaughn Makary, purchased a steel foundry and ran it as Michigan Steel. Dixon worked for her father's company in customer service and sales and later founded Lumen News to provide "Pro-America, pro-Constitution morning news programs to grade school students." From there, Dixon went on to work as a host for the conservative television outlet America's Voice News.

Dixon beat four contenders in a chaotic primary race. One of Dixon's opponents, realtor Ryan D. Kelley, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over his involvement in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, another early frontrunner in the race, was forced to drop off the ballot after the Michigan Bureau of Elections found his campaign had collected fraudulent petition signatures. Trump endorsed Dixon just days before the primary election.

In her victory speech on Tuesday night, Dixon painted Whitmer as a callous autocrat who she said shuttered businesses, issued mask mandates, and prevented children from attending schools.

"This is personal for me, and I know it's personal for you too," she added.

Many of the GOP candidates on the ballot this week had little daylight between them. In the governor's race, all candidates supported the state's 1931 abortion ban, which is the focus of ongoing legal battles since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

Dixon said she supports the 1931 state law, which bans abortions in all cases except for the life of the mother. She once claimed with no evidence that Planned Parenthood provides sex education to elementary and middle schools as a "business model," suggesting that their programs lead to teens getting pregnant later in high school.

Dixon has been endorsed by anti-abortion groups including Michigan Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List. The latter group's president has called abortion bans that include exceptions for rape "abominable."

The Republican candidates largely oppose protecting Michigan's natural environment from the fossil fuel industry. Dixon supports the opening of Line 5, a controversial oil and gas pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac, a cherished and vulnerable part of Michigan's natural environment. Environmental groups have warned that the continued operation of the 60-year-old pipeline could lead to a disastrous oil spill in Lake Michigan.

All of the Republican candidates in the race have promised to drastically cut taxes. Auto executive Kevin Rinke proposed abolishing Michigan's personal state income tax immediately, while Dixon suggested eliminating it in phases, so as to reduce the impact on the economy. Dixon has also promised to reduce regulations by "40%" without specifying which regulations would be cut and how.

Michael Greiner, assistant professor of management at Oakland University, said that while it's easy to promise tax cuts, those cuts will eventually come out of the budget somewhere. Dixon has so far failed to specify what parts of the state budget she would cut to make up for the tax cuts.

"The bottom line," Greiner told the American Independent Foundation, "is that Dixon appears to be making a bunch of promises she likely won't be able to keep."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback proposed a similar policy of tax cuts, claiming that cutting taxes would lead to increased economic activity. That experiment failed, and the state's economy did not grow enough to substitute for the reduction in revenue.

"Her proposals are woefully short on detail," Greiner said of Dixon. "The Republicans have long been claiming that tax cuts will be made up for with higher economic activity. But we saw in Kansas how flawed that logic is."

In the state attorney general's race, Nessel will fend off a right-wing challenger in DePerno, who has worked to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan. On April 22, a state court threw out DePerno's case attempting to investigate alleged improprieties in the Antrim County voting precinct. The county featured prominently in Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election, owing to a mistake made by a Republican election official. The mistake was remedied, and Trump won the county as expected.

DePerno also opposes abortion rights with no exceptions, even when the life of the mother is at risk.

In the secretary of state race, Benson is challenged by Karamo, a political novice who has trafficked in right-wing conspiracy theories. A one-time community college instructor, Karamo, who identifies as a "Christian apologist," was a poll watcher during the 2020 presidential election, during which she claimed to have witnessed "irregularities." Karamo has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, and attended a convention of QAnon adherents in Las Vegas last year.

Karamo gave a press conference on Monday in which she baselessly called Benson "the most lawless secretary of state in Michigan's history." Benson, meanwhile, has reminded Michigan voters that the 2020 election was the largest and most secure in the state's history, and pledged to protect voting rights in this year's midterm elections.

In a press conference on Monday, Benson said that since the 2020 election, Trump and his allies have waged war on free and fair elections with "misinformation, lies, legislative strategy, meritless lawsuits, and threats to and harassment of election officials and their families."

Trump-endorsed candidates won further down-ballot as well on Tuesday. John Gibbs, a former Trump administration appointee and prominent election denier, beat freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) in the state's 3rd Congressional District, and former Army veteran John James beat Tony Marcinkewciz in the newly drawn 10th District.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Sandy Hook Parents Recall Vicious Harassment Inspired By Alex Jones

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on December 14, 2012, Infowars host Alex Jones turned his anger not on the shooter, but on the victims’ families — some of whom have sued the far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist. Two of those Sandy Hook parents are Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son, Jesse McCord Lewis, was killed that day. During his testimony in an Austin, Texas courtroom on Tuesday, August 2, the Associated Press reports, Heslin recalled the ways in which Jones made his life a “living hell.”

Jones, on his show, claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was a false flag operation designed to attack the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners — and Heslin, during his testimony, vividly recalled the threats and harassment he endured from Jones’ followers. Heslin and Lewis are suing Jones in civil court for at least $150 million; the jury will determine how much he has to pay.

“Today is very important to me, and it’s been a long time coming.... to face Alex Jones for what he said and did to me,” Heslin testified during Jones’ civil trial. “To restore the honor and legacy of my son…. Alex started this fight, and I’ll finish this fight.”

AP reporter Jim Vertuno explains, “In more than an hour of emotional testimony during which he often fought back tears, Neil Heslin said he has endured online abuse, anonymous phone calls and harassment on the street…. Heslin also said that while he doesn’t know if the Sandy Hook hoax theory originated with Jones, it was Jones who ‘lit the match and started the fire’ with an online platform and broadcast that reached millions worldwide. Heslin told the jury about holding his son with a bullet hole through his head, even describing the extent of the damage to his son’s body. A key segment of the case is a 2017 Infowars broadcast that said Heslin holding his son didn’t happen.”

Lewis also testified in the Austin courtroom on August 2, according to Vertuno. But Jones wasn’t in the courtroom during Heslin’s testimony.

“The trial is just one of several Jones faces,” Vertuno notes. “Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.”

In late July, Jones’ company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Election Denier May Be GOP Nominee For Arizona Secretary Of State

On August 2, Arizona’s Republican and Democratic primary elections will be held, and residents of the Grand Canyon State will be voting for everything from governor to secretary of state. On the GOP side, it remains to be seen whether the nominees will be far-right MAGA conspiracy theorists or more traditional conservatives — and the Donald Trump-backed MAGA candidates include gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and secretary of state hopeful Mark Finchem, both of whom have been campaigning on the Big Lie and making the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.

Finchem, who serves in the Arizona House of Representatives, is way beyond conservative; he’s a supporter of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers who, in 2013, said that President Barack Obama was trying to establish a “totalitarian dictatorship.” And if Finchem wins the primary on August 2 and goes on to win the general election in November, Arizona’s top elections official will be someone who attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 and falsely claims that President Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected.

In an article published by Politico on August 1, journalist Zach Montellaro notes, “Mark Finchem — a poster child for election deniers following the 2020 election — is inching closer to becoming the chief election official in one of the most tightly divided battleground states in the country. Finchem, an Arizona state lawmaker, is running with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in Tuesday’s Republican primary for secretary of state there. He has support from a coalition of other like-minded candidates running to be election administrators in their own states, which has gained traction in several other close 2020 swing states. And Finchem has a significant edge in a rare public poll of the secretary of state race published Friday.”

The poll that Montellaro is referring to was conducted by OH Predictive Insights and released on July 29. According to OH, Finchem is leading primary opponent Beau Lane by 21 percent — and Lake, in Arizona’s GOP gubernatorial primary, is leading opponent Karrin Taylor Robinson (who conservative Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has endorsed) by 18 percent.

Finchem is a member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a far-right group that seeks to put MAGA Republicans in control of the administration of elections in different states. The group ran into a brick wall in Georgia, where Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — a conservative Republican who, like Gov. Brian Kemp, famously resisted Trump’s coup attempt in the Peach State after the 2020 election — won his primary by double digits. But in other states, including Nevada and Pennsylvania, the America First Secretary of State Coalition has been more successful.

“Should he win on Tuesday,” Montellaro explains, “Finchem will become the latest member of the America First Secretary of State Coalition to secure the Republican nomination in a key battleground, putting them a general election win away from running the 2024 presidential vote in their states — four years after working to subvert President Joe Biden’s election win and falsely claiming the vote was marred. The coalition’s founder, Jim Marchant, is the Republican nominee in Nevada, while Kristina Karamo is the de-facto GOP pick in Michigan. And in Pennsylvania, where the governor picks the state’s chief election official, coalition member Doug Mastriano is the GOP candidate…. Finchem does face significant opposition in the primary, including from Beau Lane, a businessman endorsed by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.”

Montellaro continues, “But if the latest polling is any guide, Arizona Republicans are poised to elevate someone who has relentlessly sought to undermine confidence in state elections as their pick to run future elections. Finchem has been one of the chief proponents of election conspiracy theories since the 2020 election. He was a significant booster of the GOP-led review of all of the ballots cast in 2020 in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county, which was strongly opposed by the Republican-dominated county government and a bipartisan cast of election officials. Finchem also advocates the fanciful plan of ‘decertifying’ the 2020 election results in Arizona, which has no basis in the law, and he counts others who worked to undermine American elections among his prominent supporters, including Michael Flynn, Jenna Ellis and Mike Lindell.”

On June 1, 2021, The Informant’s Nick Martin tweeted that images appeared to show Finchem near the U.S. Capitol Building and “walking through the crowd” on January 6, 2021.” The photos that Martin tweeted were taken by Tomas Abad of Getty Images.

Montellaro notes, “Lane hails from the business wing of the state party. He launched his campaign touting the endorsement of dozens of business leaders in the state. And in July, he scored the endorsement of outgoing Ducey, the term-limited governor, who praised him for his integrity and 'competence in (his) ability to actually do the job they seek.'”

Politically, Arizona has evolved a great deal in recent years. Once a deep red state, Arizona was closely identified with the conservative Republican politics of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, Sen. John McCain (who died in 2018). But Arizona now has two centrist Democratic U.S. senators: Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly. Arizona’s secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, is a Democrat who is running for governor — and while Hobbs is campaigning on preserving democracy and against voter suppression, Lake is campaigning on the Big Lie.

Although Democrats have made a lot of progress in Arizona, the Arizona Republican Party has responded by moving further to the right — much to the chagrin of traditional conservatives like Cindy McCain (John McCain’s widow) and former Sen. Jeff Flake, both of whom endorsed Biden in 2020 and have been critical of Trump and the MAGA movement. Another MAGA critic is conservative activist Meghan McCain, who is Cindy McCain’s daughter and a former co-host of The View and is on very friendly terms with Sinema.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Armed Militia Member Who Led Capitol Rioters Gets 87 Months

Guy Reffitt, a member of the extremist militia known as the Three Percenters and the very first person to stand trial for crimes connected to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced to 87 months or just over seven years in prison on Monday.

He will be under supervision for three years following his eventual release.

Although he did not physically enter the Capitol itself, the armed Wylie, Texas, man breached police barriers and advanced against officers even as they tried desperately to repel him with dozens of pepper balls. Reffitt was found guilty this spring of multiple felony charges following a four-day jury trial. His charges included transporting a firearm, obstruction of an official proceeding, being in a restricted area unlawfully while armed, interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder, and obstructing justice.

The last charge stemmed from Reffitt’s violent intimidation of his own family members, including his son Jackson and daughter Peyton, after he returned to Texas from Washington, D.C., last year. Jackson Reffitt was visibly anguished in court as he told jurors how his father warned him if he ratted him out to the police, he would be a “traitor.”

“And traitors get shot,” he recalled his father saying.

At his trial in Washington, jurors watched video Reffitt shot on January 6, where, courtesy of a camera mounted to his helmet-clad head, he is heard excitedly vowing to drag lawmakers out of the Capitol by their hair.

“I’m not here to play games,” Reffitt said in one clip. “I just want to see [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi’s head hit every fucking stair on the way out—and Mitch McConnell, too.”

Reffitt was also heard saying, “We have the numbers to make it happen,” and was confident the mob could overcome police without “firing a single shot.”

His attorney, F. Clinton Broden—who did not represent Reffitt at trial but signed onto the case later—sought a much lighter sentence than the 15 years initially requested by the Department of Justice. Reffitt was originally represented by William Welch.

Prosecutors argued that Reffitt was a catalyst-type figure on January 6 and urged the court to view him as the “match that started the fire,” since he was one of the very first people to breach police barriers and wave others on.

Reffitt, at the time, would seem to agree. At trial, prosecutors unearthed a Telegram message sent by Reffitt that bragged: “I was the first person to light the fire on the Capitol steps.”

Broden said despite the rhetoric, the suggestion that he started the riot was off-base. According to WUSA9, Broden told the judge Monday that the mob “would have gone up those stairs regardless, without Mr. Reffitt, I think we all know that.”

He argued his client was unlike other January 6 defendants—who had physically assaulted police, too—and therefore deserved no more than two years in prison.

Prosecutors sought what is known as an “upward departure” from the recommended federal sentencing guidelines of 9 to 11 years. Instead, they asked Reffitt to serve 15 years. His conduct warranted enhancements because of his extended planning in the run-up to January 6 and his agitation of the crowd when he started waving to people to come up the Capitol steps, prosecutors said.

In a presentencing report, prosecutors defined the 49-year-old recruiter for the Three Percenters as a “quintessential example of an intent to both influence and retaliate against government conduct through intimidation or coercion,”

Reffitt traveled more than a thousand miles from Texas to attend former President Donald Trump’s “wild” rally at the Ellipse with fellow Three Percenter Rocky Hardie. They came toting weapons, including two AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles, and Reffitt carried a .40 caliber handgun. The handgun stayed holstered at his hip when he was at the Capitol. Hardie and Reffitt left the assault rifles at their hotel in downtown D.C., but when Reffitt marched on the Capitol, he donned the .40 caliber gun, body armor, a tactical helmet, and carried flexicuffs.

The sentence enhancement was necessary for numerous reasons but was especially important because it would serve as a significant deterrent, prosecutors said.

“The need to deter others is especially strong because Reffitt engaged in acts of violence that were intended to influence the government through intimidation or coercion—acts that have been defined, by statute, as domestic terrorism,” assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Nestler wrote this month to presiding U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump-appointee. “Moreover, the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was calculated to interfere, and did interfere, with one of the most important democratic processes we have: the peaceful transfer of power.”

In court Monday, Nestler reiterated this point, noting the history of Reffit’s violent remarks and, in particular, his bringing flexicuffs to the Capitol. Reffitt, he said, intended to detain lawmakers.

“He was trying to take over our government. He wasn’t just trying to stop the vote,” Nestler said.

Friedrich was not inclined to uphold the recommended sentencing enhancements for “advanced planning” or for Reffit’s role in “aggravating” events on January 6. Nor was she willing to uphold the domestic terror enhancement. Politico reported Monday that Friedrich felt it would be unfair and would prompt an “unwarranted sentencing disparity” among other Jan. 6 defendants.

Unlike several other January 6 defendants, Reffitt failed to enter into any sort of cooperation agreement with prosecutors. Regardless of who the defendant is, cooperation almost always translates to a more lenient sentence.

Friedrich said in court Monday that she worried about Reffitt receiving a “dramatically different sentence” because he opted to go to trial instead of striking a plea deal.

The Trump-appointed judge raised comparisons between Reffitt and other January 6 defendants like Lonnie Coffman of Alabama. Coffman, she noted, pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, but prosecutors did not seek to increase his sentence for that.

When authorities arrested Coffman as he was walking to his vehicle on January 6, they discovered almost a dozen Molotov cocktails in his car, a rifle, shotgun, machetes, a 9mm handgun, a crossbow, and other tactical gear, like smoke bombs. On his person, he had yet another 9mm handgun and a revolver. He was sentenced in April to 46 months or a little under four years.

Nestler reminded Judge Friedrich Monday that Coffman also did not receive the upward departure because he did not go to the Capitol on January 6. Reffitt did.

Friedrich also raised the case of Mark Ponder, a 56-year-old D.C. resident charged with a single felony of assaulting police with a deadly weapon. Ponder, who had a criminal background prior to January 6, assaulted no less than three cops during the Capitol attack, including U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell.

In court last week before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, Gonell offered a victim impact statement describing that life-altering day. Ponder used a thin metal pole to strike down at Gonell’s riot shield, cracking it. That pole became damaged, so Ponder picked up another thicker pole just nearby to strike at Gonell again. This one was colored red, white, and blue, The Washington Post reported. Gonell, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, suffered severe and sustained physical and mental injuries as a result of January 6 and has taken early retirement.

Ponder was sentenced to five years in prison, just below a recommended six-year sentence. This leniency was the product of his cooperation, Judge Chutkan said.

As for Reffitt, Judge Friedrich said she did not support the proposed enhancements to his sentencing though told prosecutors it was a “close call.”

Were Reffitt joined at the Capitol steps by his fellow Three-Percenter Rocky Hardie on January 6, that would have made the decision to add the enhancements a “slam dunk.”

Hardie, of Round Rock, Texas, testified against Reffitt at trial in exchange for immunity and did not face any charges. Hardie and Reffitt drove to Washington, D.C. together, a trip that took over 20 hours.

Hardie disclosed how he and Reffitt joked gleefully about the sound Pelosi’s head would make thudding downstairs as she was dragged out of the Capitol during the Joint Session.

After Reffitt was found guilty, Hardie told CBS they did not really believe they would harm lawmakers because they did not think it would be possible to actually access them. Hardie defended bringing weapons to Washington, too, saying they were for “self-defense” purposes. When he saw Reffitt carrying the zip ties on January 6, he told CBS that was a precautionary measure. Reffitt told him they would need them “just in case” there was anyone around that needed to be detained.

In an interview last December with ABC, Reffitt said he regretted his actions because they tore his family apart. His son was not at sentencing on Monday.

Last month, Reffitt’s wife and daughter advocated on his behalf. His son did not. Reffitt himself has said before that their relationship was strained because his son leaned more left than he did.

Writing to Judge Friedrich in hopes that she would grant a more lenient sentence, Reffitt’s wife Jodi said tensions in their family were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Guy had lost his job as an oil rig manager, and their children’s schooling was disrupted. Stress levels were high. It didn’t help matters either, she said, that her husband’s brash personality stemmed from a rough upbringing where he had been “on his own since 15.”

Jodi Reffitt begged Judge Friedrich for leniency because, she said, being together would be the only way for their family to “fully heal.”

Reffit’s daughter Peyton defended her father’s behavior and said he fell down a “rabbit hole of political news and online banter.”

In her estimation, it seemed like her father believed Trump was talking right to him and his grievances. Social media just kept “radicalizing” him, she added.

Prosecutors asked the judge not to give this too much credence, pointing to at least two incidents in which Guy allegedly put a gun to his wife’s head. On one of those occasions, he fired the gun near her head. An illegal silencer was also found on Reffitt’s property.

Judge Friedrich acknowledged Reffitt’s behavior was “unhinged at times,” but according to CBS, the judge also “couched her concern saying Reffitt ‘clearly’ loves his wife.”

Peyton Reffitt was originally meant to testify against her father at trial along with her brother Jackson, but she did not. When Reffitt returned from D.C. after the insurrection, Peyton told prosecutors her father had become increasingly paranoid. Once, he told her if she was recording him with her cell phone, he would “put a bullet” through it.

This and the “traitors get shot” comment deeply disturbed her brother. But Peyton said she didn’t see this as a threat to her life, just more of her father’s overheated rhetoric.

In court Monday, she put the blame for her father’s actions squarely on Trump’s shoulders without calling Trump by name.

“My father’s name wasn’t on all the flags,” she said Monday. “It was another man’s name. He was not the leader.”

At his trial, prosecutors shared video footage of Reffitt. In one clip, he is seen taking chemical irritants head-on, rubbing his eye. He had only barely slowed his advance because of this, and even still, he is seen waving more rioters up the stairs. The glint of his gun in his holster was visible in this footage too.

In other footage, a portion of a Zoom call Reffitt participated in with fellow Three Percenters, jurors heard Guy Reffitt boldly gloat.

“Nobody was moving forward until I climbed up that banister. I couldn’t even see, but I kept screaming, ‘Take the House,’” he said.

At sentencing, the former U.S. Capitol Police officer who testified against Reffitt, Shauni Kerkhoff, called for a harsher sentence.

Kerkhoff agreed with U.S. Attorney Nestler, who said Reffitt was more domestic terrorist than so-called patriot.

The former police officer recalled “watching in horror” as Reffitt kept advancing towards her at the Capitol, encouraging others around him to push past barriers and other police. Kerkhoff recalled how he assaulted her and other officers as he tried to push his way past them.

Reffitt has been held in a D.C. jail for more than a year already.

In a jailhouse letter first published this May by ProPublica, Reffitt defended the violence of January 6 and the activities of the extremist Three Percenters militia. The letter was signed “The 1/6ers,” but ProPublica was able to determine through interviews with members of Reffitt’s family that he wrote the screed.

“January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,” the letter stated. “If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown. Ask the Capitol police for their opinion of how it could have been. They are grateful it wasn’t a real insurrection complete with mind, body, and soul.”

Before he was sentenced Monday, Judge Friedrich expressed concern about this letter and noted that it did not disavow January 6 but drew troubling comparisons between January 6 and 1776.

Reffitt offered a statement of his own before he was sentenced. According to WUSA9, Reffitt said he wanted to offer “multiple apologies.”

“I was, to put it colorfully, a fucking idiot,” he said.

The 49-year-old also vowed not to have “anything to do with militia groups or any stupid shit like that.”

He apologized to U.S. Capitol Police and members of Congress as well as the court.

Reffitt then told the judge that his family would be unable to support themselves financially while he was jailed if he “didn’t say something to garner money for them.”

When the judge asked him if it was true that everything he had said at trial was to raise money for his family, including his outward statements about rebelling against tyrannical governments, Reffitt said it was.

He also claimed that his previous attorney, William Welch, did not show him a plea bargain and instructed him that a trial was the only viable path forward.

Welch did not return an immediate request for comment on Monday. In court, Nestler said prosecutors offered Reffitt a 50-month sentence if he would cooperate, but Welch rejected the deal.

Judge Friedrich appeared skeptical at Reffitt’s remarks, pushing back against the notion that his attorney did not offer him insights on how a plea deal might change his fate. Reffitt’s own sense of self-importance may have clouded his judgment, she said: He wanted to be the first to go to trial.

Prosecutors rejected Reffitt’s last-minute mea culpa, noting how he still described January 6 as if it were a false flag event during an interview in The New Yorker this June.

In the end, Friedrich found Reffitt’s pleas unconvincing, telling him his actions posed a “direct threat” to democracy and an equal punishment was warranted.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Neo-Nazis Promote DeSantis Outside Far-Right Youth Conference

Republican luminaries such as Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ted Cruz took to the stage in Tampa to spew slurs and insults for an appreciative audience.

Republican Party luminaries gathered in Tampa July 22-24 for Turning Point USA's "Student Action Summit." The headliners at the conference of the right-wing organization, which says on its website that its "mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom," were Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, both of whom are widely expected to announce a run for president in 2024.

Over the course of the conference, speakers ranging from Fox News' Laura Ingraham to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) repeated favored GOP talking points on issues such as the 2020 presidential election, which they continue to insist was stolen from Trump; public health mandates they consider tyrannical; and LGBTQ rights.

While speakers were addressing the attendees inside the Tampa Convention Center on July 24, neo-Nazis gathered: Several dozen protestors carrying signs showing swastikas and insignias of Adolf Hitler's elite SS armed paramilitary enforcers yelled at bystanders through megaphones. A video posted to Twitter on July 24 appears to show them saying through a megaphone, "Vote Ron DeSantis this year. Ninety-six percent of the media is owned by six Jewish corporations. You know it. ... It's a conspiracy. Just like the Holocaust."

The pro-DeSantis protesters held banners that read "DeSantis Country" as well as pictures of the Florida governor and anti-Semitic caricatures.

One of them told counter-protesters, "We kicked all your n** ass in Rhodesia. The Rhodesian Bush War — it was a race war in Africa between whites and Blacks. You guys got your ass kicked." The 50-year conflict between white settlers and Black insurgents in the territory that gained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980 has become a point of reference and an inspiration to many white supremacists.

The Florida Holocaust Museum issued a statement on Monday condemning the protest:

Openly and proudly displaying genocidal symbols is a direct threat to the Jewish community. Carrying the Nazi flag, or that of the SS, the organization responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, is an indefensible act of pure hatred.

This isn't about politics or religion. It's about humanity. The Florida Holocaust Museum calls upon everyone, Jew and non-Jew, regardless of political affiliation, to condemn this blatant antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. This should matter to everyone. When antisemitic incidents occur that leverage chilling Nazi symbols, we are reminded of the importance of The Florida Holocaust Museum's mission to preserve the memory of the Holocaust while educating future generations to prevent antisemitism and hatred of all kinds. We will not be deterred.

While the neo-Nazis marched outside, many of the most prominent members of the Republican Party addressed the audience inside.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) used her speech to ridicule concern about the spread of monkeypox, rates of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are higher in Georgia than in all but four other states. She also made fun of support for Ukraine and vaccinations against COVID-19 before going on to suggest that President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be impeached for security breaches during the Trump-inspired insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Biden was not yet president when the rioting occurred.)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) ridiculed women protesting for reproductive rights, saying, "Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb." He also said, "Our America is not for the thugs and the criminals who would burn our cities and murder our citizens in the name of some bullshit social justice," later sharing video of the speech on Facebook with the comment, "When the Republicans are in the majority, and I have subpoena power, I will personally investigate #BLM like I'm a George Soros-funded prosecutor going after the Trump Organization."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the appreciative crowd: "It really is bat-crap crazy. Like, the left, you are no longer allowed to say — here's a radical statement, OK? Trigger warning: Women exist. But what the hell is wrong with you idiots? This is not — it, it, it's — they've gone to Crazy Town." Cruz said that a woman could be defined as "a homo sapien with two X chromosomes. This stuff ain't complicated."

Donald Trump, Jr. asked the crowd with regard to right-wing conspiracy theories, "All the things we've been talking about — has there been one that we were wrong about?" and also mocked concern about monkeypox, saying, "The monkeypox pandemic, folks! Monkeypox — it's very scary." Encouraging the crowd to boo the World Health Organization, which has issued warnings about the spread of the virus, Trump went on, "I don't know about you, but if — and I won't even say it here, because no matter what I say I will be criticized, but if you look at how you can get it ... I mean, I dunno, seems like it would be rather easily avoidable unless you're Hunter Biden."

Two Democratic candidates for governor of Florida, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, condemned the protesters outside the convention center.

Fried, standing where the protesters had been the day before, said on July 24: "I am asking for every elected official — I don't care if you're Republican, I don't care if you're Democrat, I don't care if you are independent: This is a time to say, No, we are not going to stand for hate and antisemitism and racism. And so I am asking you, Ron DeSantis, to denounce the Nazis that were here, here to celebrate your speech inside of this convention center. They were holding your pictures yesterday."

Charlie Crist tweeted that same day: "The reprehensible anti-Semitic hate and Neo-Nazi demonstrations from this weekend have no place in FL. We need a governor that'll forcefully condemn hate. DeSantis is coddling anti-Semitism because he views them as part of his base. It's just another reason he must be replaced."

A spokesperson for Turning Point USA condemned the protesters.

DeSantis has not mentioned the protest. His press secretary, Christina Pushaw, posted and then removed a tweet suggesting that the neo-Nazis were possibly DeSantis political opponents.

A straw poll conducted by Fox News found that 78.7 percent of attendees at the Turning Point USA event would vote for Trump for president in the general election, with only 19 percent preferring DeSantis.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Verizon Drops Far-Right One America News From Cable Network

On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that Verizon was “unable to reach an agreement” with Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News, and that OAN will be “removed from the Fios TV lineup” on July 31.

In recent weeks, One America News Network has lobbed attacks at Verizon, one of its last remaining carriers, for “silencing conservative voices” and “engaging in censorship” against OAN. This wave of attacks came into clearer focus when Verizon publicly revealed that its contract with Herring Networks, OAN’s parent company, expires on July 30.

The “content update” for customers on Verizon’s website states that “sometimes broadcasters and cable networks demand unacceptable price increases,” implying that the issue is Herring Networks charging Verizon more money than its channels are worth -- which is not much.

And in a message dated July 15, Verizon alerted Fios customers that starting soon, the provider would be offering OAN and Herring's A Wealth of Entertainment, (AWE) “to those Fios TV customers who want to watch them and are willing to pay for them” -- suggesting the channels might soon be available only as premium subscriptions.

Whether the issue is financial or otherwise, Verizon is right to balk at renewing the contract to carry an extremist, increasingly hateful, and anti-democracy network. OAN has shown a zeal unlike any other self-styled news organization for fighting the results of the 2020 election, including involving itself in the Trump campaign’s fake electors scheme and state election “audits,” as well as issuing calls for treason trials and mass executions of media and Democratic Party leadership.

OAN also manages to stand out among right-wing cable networks for its viciously anti-LGBTQ commentary, labeling LGBTQ people and their allies -- especially transgender people -- as pedophiles “satisfying their own warped perversions” and also “canceling reproduction” for “population control.” Said one guest, “We need to start really going after these people and really punishing them.”

As Verizon’s contract with OAN is coming to a close, the network is still staking out the only negotiating position it seems to know and one that worked so well in its fractious DirecTV relationship -- hostile attacks.

In an interview with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), OAN correspondent Caitlin Sinclair labeled Verizon “one of the largest and wokest companies to date” and accused it of “looking to drop this network, One America News, from their lineup.” Sinclair asked Stefanik, “What pressure are you and Republican colleagues possibly putting on Verizon, or can you put on a company like Verizon?” Stefanik replied, “It’s not up to Verizon to determine what American citizens, what information they can access. That’s up to the consumer themselves.”

In a different portion of the same Stefanik interview, which OAN aired in two separate segments, Sinclair claimed that OAN’s viewership “is just proof that the American people do not want orthodoxy.” She also asked, “What can the American people do in the meantime as far as immediate steps to ensure consumer choice when it comes to news programming?” Stefanik advised the consumers to “hold these companies accountable” by choosing to “take your dollars elsewhere.”

Sinclair concluded the segment by declaring, “We the American people cannot continue to allow this level of censorship. House Republicans and their legislative efforts are commendable and critical, but we still need to hear from you. This assault on our sovereignty ends with us, the American citizens, taking back the power.”

In another interview, this time with Heritage Foundation tech policy director Kara Frederick, OAN D.C. bureau chief John Hines asked if a 2021 letter from Democratic members of Congress asking TV providers, including Verizon, to comment on right-wing misinformation was “a form of subtle intimidation, sort of a wink-and-a-nod form of intimidation, or a tacit threat” from the government. Frederick replied that Congress was essentially saying that “if we don’t like what these networks are basically saying and disseminating, then we aim to cut you off at the knees.” Hines concluded that “maybe even your cable -- DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast -- maybe they won’t be on your side after they get some of these letters,” which were sent 17 months ago.

OAN’s consistent whining about “censorship” is a red herring from the unavoidable truth: This incredibly hateful and anti-democratic network is a liability for any TV provider that does business with it.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.